Rwanda is known as the “Land of a Thousand Hills”, although as I travel along its steep, winding roads on our five-hour drive from the capital, Kigali, I begin to think this must be an understatement. Vast rainforest-covered mountains frame lush green-tea plantations that rise and fall in the distance as far as the eye can see; the countryside looks pristine, with not a speck of rubbish in sight. Our driver, Anaclet, explains that plastic bags and packaging have been banned since 2008 and that once a month, there is a mandatory clean-up day called Umuganda—a source of great national pride that has helped unite the country in the wake of its recent tragic history, healing communities that had been ripped apart by genocide.
Emerging from a backdrop of seemingly never-ending wilderness, we arrive amid torrential rain at our first destination: One&Only Nyungwe House, an eco-retreat nestled at the edge of Nyungwe National Park. After being welcomed into the main lodge with a dark timber interior and a roaring fire, we are soon sipping delicious iced tea on the terrace while colobus monkeys play beside us, their black-and-white tails flashing through the bushes. The resort’s 22 rooms are arranged around the edge of the property and have four-poster beds (warmed during the turn-down service by a hot water bottle), wood-burning stoves, and private balconies overlooking the jungle. It’s easy to stay cocooned in my luxury wooden cabin or just lie by the infinity pool sampling the array of botanical gins, but I’m here for adventure. So the next day, after trying my hand at archery, spear-throwing, and tea-picking at the resort, I set out with the group to explore the forest beyond.
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